New Brunswick

How to get groceries when your neighbourhood is isolated by floodwaters

Nerepis, N.B., resident Patricia Moulton ran an ordinary errand in an extraordinary fashion Friday.

25 homes in New Brunswick community of Sunset Valley cut off during spring freshet

One Nerepis family had to go to extraordinary lengths to run an ordinary errand because their home has been isolated by floodwaters. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Patricia Moulton ran an ordinary errand in an extraordinary fashion Friday.

The Nerepis, N.B., resident was returning home with groceries and a case of beer, but floodwaters have cut off the only road into her neighbourhood. So, Moulton jumped in a boat and cruised several feet above the pavement to her flooded home.

The floating taxi is the family's way in and out of the flooded Sunset Valley, an offshoot community of 25 homes in Nerepis, northwest of Saint John.

"Normally we can drive up this road. But today, it'll take us five to 10 minutes by the boat to go down," Moulton said, as the boat traversed the murky brown water, flooded homes over her shoulder.

Her son makes the trek twice a day to and from school.

Ray Burry offers free boat rides to his neighbours whose homes are surrounded by floodwaters. 0:49

Not the first time

Moulton's spirits were up Friday despite the devastating scenario replaying itself for the second consecutive year.

Their home was inundated last spring — the first time that happened since they moved to Sunset Valley in 2009 — and the family lived in a cabin for four months while the house was raised four feet.

The renovations, which totalled $110,000, concluded last week, just in time for the 2019 freshet.

"It's very discouraging, to be honest," Moulton said, noting there's four feet of water in their basement.

Patricia Moulton said it's 'discouraging' to have their home flood for the second consecutive year. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Following the historic 2018 flood, their neighbour accepted a buyout from the government, which knocked down the home. But the Moultons decided against it, choosing to remain in their beloved neighbourhood.

Now, she said the family has little choice but to stay and fight the floodwaters.

"We really don't have many options," she said. "We have to kind of stay because if we don't, we're not going to be able to sell it, for one, and we can't afford to go anywhere else."

They haven't evacuated because the house still has power and water, and they're concerned about moving the pets.

Ray Burry, known by his neighbours as Uber Ray, has offered to ferry people from the isolated Nerepis neighbourhood to the main road. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

That's where "Uber Ray" comes in handy.

Ray Burry, a Sunset Valley resident, has offered to ferry people to and from the isolated community with his Zodiac.

Sitting up higher than most of his neighbours, Burry said he isn't worried about being flooded.

"The worst is looking down on those people and seeing what they're going through," he said.

Red cross registers nearly 1,000

Many residents have evacuated the area, numbering among the 372 households, or 940 individuals, to register with the Red Cross, according to provincial director Bill Lawlor.

Lawlor said about 70 per cent of the people who've registered this year also registered last year. The other 30 per cent is made up of people who didn't leave their homes last year or didn't register with the Red Cross.

Patricia Moulton said her home has four feet of water in the basement. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"Today is day nine of the 2019 flood response, but it is day 365 for the 2018 New Brunswick flood response," Lawlor said at a news conference Friday in Fredericton.

"We are still dealing with some families who were impacted by last year's flooding event, and certainly over the last several weeks and months there have been a number of families who have just returned to their primary residences."

The Red Cross is now appealing for donations from the public to assist the people affected by flooding. The organization said in a statement donations are "used to assist vulnerable individuals and families with unexpected flood-related expenses not covered by other means" like insurance providers or the province's disaster financial assistance program.

The main road into the Sunset Valley neighbourhood is flooded, isolating 25 homes from the mainland. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Residents affected by flooding can report damage by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering online.

The Damage Report Line program allows residents, tenants, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to receive information and register their flood-related damage.

With files from Shane Fowler

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